I love Thanksgiving! It’s the one day of the year where family and friends gather and share an abundant meal, eat to our heart’s content and give thanks for all that God has done and continues to do in our lives.
It truly is the best kickoff to the most wonderful time of year. It’s a day to reflect on God’s goodness, to enjoy the special relationships in our lives and celebrate God’s continued faithfulness. It’s a day to watch football games and parades, and a day to cook and create a wonderful meal for those whom I love the most.
While I’m no Pioneer Woman, I enjoy investing a lot of thought and time into preparing Thanksgiving dinner. Gathering my favorite recipes, compiling the grocery list, shopping and cooking usually begin several days before Thanksgiving.
Last year, was no exception. Jessica, my youngest, and I got up early and began the preparations. We recorded Macy’s parade to watch later in the day because my boys were adamant that a football game – not a parade – should be watched live. (Because of the time difference where we live, football games on television start about 8am).
Several hours later as the smell of turkey wafted in the air, Jessie and I sat down to enjoy the parade while Gregg and the boys headed to the beach for a quick surf session. I thought I had better check on the turkey and baste it one more time before engrossing myself in the holiday floats, high school bands and the Radio City Rockettes.
However as I attempted to open the oven door, it wouldn’t open. The door was stuck, trapping my turkey inside! On Thanksgiving! Really?! You have GOT. TO. BE. KIDDING ME! Why couldn’t this have happened while I was reheating Bagel Bites like on any other night? Seriously, the door was only opening about six inches.
Somehow, the latch at the base of the oven door was broken, jamming the door and preventing it from opening. We tried EVERYTHING! Pounding it. Prying it. Shaking it. Kicking it. Skyping in family members for advice. Nothing worked.
So there my turkey sat, in my oven, with no way of escape. My Thanksgiving dinner was on the verge of disaster and as we futility attempted to liberate my turkey, my excitement of family gathering together around our table shifted to worry, anxiety and visions of eating at Zippy’s.
After about 45 minutes, we decided to break the oven door, bending and prying it open about 12 inches – just enough space for Gregg to spear the turkey with two roasting forks and squeeze the bird through the opening and onto the platter. Crisis averted (as long as it’s fully cooked).
Ironically, throughout the week I had been meditating on Paul’s encouragement to the Philippians,
Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. 7 Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7 NLT
Ouch! My joy and peace can be sooo circumstantial. How quickly I can allow something as silly as an oven door not opening to steal my peace and take my focus off of the important things. Opening the door to worry, I let can little distractions begin to consume my thoughts. First world problems, right?
Paul’s source of joy as he wrote this letter to the Philippians was in the midst of really difficult circumstances. He was in prison with no resolution in sight. Yet here he is telling them to not worry, pray and be thankful – as a man who had been beaten, imprisoned, shipwrecked, starving. OK, I’m now thoroughly convicted.
Paul could challenge them in this way because he had experienced God’s presence. He had a relationship with Jesus; he had seen people healed and delivered. He had confidence in a good God and knew that He was faithful (Psalm 100).
Paul wasn’t advocating positive thinking, or a “glass half-full” perspective. His confidence was rooted in a deep assurance that God is in control – regardless of his present circumstances. Paul encouraged the Philippian people that they didn’t have to live in fear, worry or anxiety anymore because the One True God, Jesus, is in control of everything and intimately concerned with every detail of their lives – even a turkey trapped in an oven.
You can approach God and know that He is intimately involved in your life. Even when troubles and difficulties arise, He will be with you to lead you through them. My hope is that I will grow in my ability to pray, give thanks and notice the shards of hope in the difficult places and unlikely circumstances. I want to be able to respond as Paul did…
Pray about everything…
I once heard it said this way: worry assumes that we are in control; prayer asks God to be in control. The causes and opportunities for our worry will never go away. While our natural reaction may be to control our circumstances or fix our problems, God asks us to surrender them to Him.
Tell God what you need…
There are legitimate needs and causes to worry. The benefit of talking to God about them is that while we do, we discover that the God who is everywhere and in control of everything, becomes real to us in ways that we wouldn’t experience otherwise. In our cries to him, we feel his comfort. In our pain and anxiety, we feel his presence and we get to know him and discover his character.
Thank him for all he has done…
Thank him for all the little amazing miracles He does every day all around you.
Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. Philippians 4:6-7 NLT
We liberated our turkey, (and it was delicious by the way) but broke our oven in the process. I almost ruined thanksgiving – not because I wrecked the turkey, but I almost allowed the pressure and stress of creating the perfect Thanksgiving meal to usurp the true intention of the day – a day of thanks for God’s abundant blessing in the midst of life’s imperfection.
As we enter the most wonderful time of year and begin to journey through the holiday season, my prayer is that you would remember these words from Paul and take time to thank God for the simple things around you – even an oven door that opens.